Subscribe to The Horn Book

Bertha Mahony Miller


Bertha Mahony Miller in 1929

Bertha Everett Mahony was born in Rockport, MA, in 1882. After a year at the Secretarial School at Simmons College, she joined the staff of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU), a Boston institution organized to protect and promote the status of working women, as Assistant Secretary in 1906. Ten years later, under the auspices of the WEIU, she opened the Bookshop for Boys and Girls, where she worked tirelessly to ensure that her customers had access to the best new children’s books available.

The store regularly sponsored story hours, art exhibits, and a poetry series where such luminaries as Carl Sandberg, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Archibald MacLeish came to read their works to children. All of these activities were designed to instill in young patrons a lifelong love of reading. In 1916, eager to reach a wider public with information on good books, Miss Mahony engineered an arrangement with the WEIU and a variety of publishers to underwrite costs for a traveling book caravan.

Bookshop for Boys and GirlsIn 1924, with her colleague Elinor Whitney, Bertha Mahony founded The Horn Book Magazine, the first magazine exclusively devoted to children’s books and reading. In 1932, the year of her marriage to William Davis Miller, she withdrew from the bookshop to concentrate her energies on publishing the Magazine, which had amiably ended its association with the WEIU.

Bertha Mahony Miller died in 1969 at her home in Ashburnham, MA. Her energy, commitment, and dedication to finding and promoting the best books available for children and young adults are still a driving force behind The Horn Book Magazine.

Slide 1
First known photo of Bertha Mahony Miller — her 1924 passport
Slide 2
Opening spread of a June 1929 article about Bertha Mahony (The Atlantic Monthly)
Slide 3
The bookshop's exterior
Slide 4
Bookshop interior
Slide 5
Elinor Whitney Field
Slide 6
First issue of Horn Book Magazine, October 1924
Slide 7
William and Bertha Miller with their grand-newphew, Arnold Manthorne
Slide 8
Bertha working on the Magazine at the train station in Ashburnham MA
Slide 9
Mrs. Miller in Florida during her retirement

About or by Bertha Mahony Miller

October 1924 Horn Book Editorial
Bertha Mahony Miller’s inaugural editorial

Article about Bertha Mahony Miller in Atlantic Monthly, June 1929

Clippings of articles about Bertha Mahony Miller and the book caravan

Reminiscences of early Horn Book days (September/October 1999 Horn Book Magazine)

Barbara Bader’s 1999 Horn Book Magazine pieces on Bertha Mahony Miller and Horn Book history

Beatrix & Bertha by Lolly Robinson (July/August 2006 Horn Book Magazine)
Why Beatrix Potter cottoned to Bertha Miller

More Bertha Mahony Miller on